One of life’s greatest pleasures

never stop learning concept on blackboard

We spend a good part of our life looking for satisfaction by acquiring things like bigger homes, expensive cars, and other possessions. Our quest for these things becomes our focus, believing that they will bring us happiness and pleasure. I’m not sure where all of this came from, maybe it is a result of our culture, but it often leads to a misguided approach to life.

As human beings we have an innate need to learn, which leads to self improvement, and yes happiness. For me and so many others, one of life’s greatest pleasures is learning. Think about the times you have been really happy. Maybe this was when you were pursuing a degree, studying for a certification, or learning something from your own studies or work. Unlike acquiring some material possession your pursuit of knowledge can never be taken away from you, it will not erode or decay over time. The pleasure you get by learning doesn’t wear off, but instead provides an infinite source of gratification.

Most of us can agree that goals are a good thing, they provide focus and direction, but make sure that learning is one of your highest priority goals. In fact those other material things are often the result of learning. Sure it’s great to have a nice car, a comfortable home, electronic toys, and whatever else you enjoy possessing. Unfortunately as you focus on attaining these things, once acquired they leave you with a taste for more much like any other addiction. One should also weigh the cost of what you might have to give up to acquire all these things. While learning costs you very little, maybe the cost of the book, and an investment of your time.

Take a few moments today and think back on a time when you were not obsessed with things, but instead spent your time learning about subjects that interested you. Can you think of anything that brought you more pleasure? It is never too late to change the way you think, modify your goals, and focus on the one thing that can bring you great satisfaction, happiness, and pleasure.

The very act of learning about things that interest you opens the door to everything else, creating opportunities go grow and to contribute to this world. Don’t misunderstand me I am not advocating you become a monk; I have material goals, but most of my goals are centered around learning for personal or professional development, and these are the goals that that provide the most pleasure in my life.



Define Happiness

In my last post I wrote about how you might bring some happiness into your life with meditation, but I neglected to really define what happiness is. I looked up a number of definitions and they used words like a joy, good fortune, pleasure, contentment, or satisfied to describe the elusive happiness. For me it is probably a more neutral feeling where I am not one of the following: angry, jealous, envious, entitled, critical, or dissatisfied. So is happiness just the opposite of some of these negative emotions or thoughts? I often have issues defining something like happiness through my own experience because I do not possess the intellectual maturity to experience a consistent state of mind for any prolonged period of time, making it difficult for me to be an expert in it.

Happiness is

So if happiness includes joy, good fortune, pleasure, contentment, or simply feeling satisfied with life then I look to those that seem to be in that state of mind on a consistent basis. I only know a couple of people that fit that description, and though I cannot read their mind I can describe some of the behaviors they exhibit.  Someone very close to me is probably the happiest person I know, and frankly they have no more reason than you or I do for that state of mind, but here are a few of the things I have noticed:

  • They seem to start each day the same, calm and positive
  • They do not let little things like traffic and other stuff bother them
  • They rarely complain
  • They spend most of their time helping others and do not feel taken advantage of
  • They don’t think they are better than anyone else, in fact if anything they undervalue themselves
  • They work hard, but they are not ambitious in a classical sense (money, position, power)
  • They feel blessed that they can do what they enjoy for a job
  • Each day they seem to experience joy, pleasure, contentment, and some sense of satisfaction

Now these people are clearly not the majority on this planet, but they seem to be able avoid or minimize times of anger, resentment, envy, and being critical better than the rest of us. As you remember in my last post I advocated meditation as means of acquiring some happiness in my life, and I stand by that recommendation, but there is something different about these happy people I’ve mentioned. They do not necessarily meditate, they are not monks or nuns, instead they walk among us, and I’m not even sure they know why they are so happy. Maybe if we emulate their behavior we too can begin to enjoy some of the day to day serenity that comes with happiness.  From the behaviors listed above let’s see if we can boil them down into some things we can do everyday, maybe even as an affirmation:

  1. I will meditate for at least 10 minutes every morning
  2. I will ignore the  small stuff
  3. I will stop bitching and whining
  4. I will do things for others without feeling they need to reciprocate
  5. I will stop thinking I am better or worse than anyone else
  6. I will find something I love to do and do it every day
  7. I will write down something I am grateful for each day

Again I’m no expert, in fact I need the above list more than most. I have a lot of respect for those people that can lead a happy existence, and I am determined to follow in their footsteps and achieve some sense of satisfaction and contentment myself.  Ready to join me?